Postdoc Industry Consultants (PICO)

A biotechnology initiative of the Medical College of Wisconsin

Postdoc Industry Consultants (PICO) logo

PICO is a bioscience consulting group comprised of postdoctoral fellows at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Our mission is to provide research-based, actionable business recommendations on key projects for biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. Concurrently, consultants broaden their business acumen and learn how to navigate the evolving biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.

PICO Group

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  Types of services offered

Using a team based approach, PICO provides short term consulting services for the complex challenges faced by start-up and second stage firms. Postdocs are highly skilled in conducting rigorous research and filtering through complex issues to formulate objective, research-based recommendations. Each team is made up of 2-3 consultants that will address the needs of your company. Projects typically completed within 2-6 months and each team member will commit 5-10 hours per week. There is no fee for our services.

Past projects have included:
Business plan drafting
Company valuation
Competitive benchmarking
FDA regulatory assessment
Identification of in- and out-licensing partner companies
Market research analysis
Price sensitivity analysis
Product commercialization
Product packaging
Targeted surveys
SBIR grant preparation

  Who do we help?

The PICO group works with companies, large and small, on projects that have the potential to impact company growth and development. Our target market is start-up and second stage bioscience companies.

PICO consultants leverage their scientific critical thinking skills to provide research-based, actionable business recommendations on key projects for regional biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. In return, client companies will offer a practical experience for business-minded postdocs in an industry setting.

PICO clients

  Benefits to postdocs

At the Medical College of Wisconsin, postdoctoral fellows are at the forefront of scientific research. The results of our work have the potential for global impact. For those who plan to transition to industry after the postdoctoral fellowship, PICO is an excellent opportunity to gain first-hand experience in industry and work on projects that positively impact local bioscience firms.

Working in highly integrated 2-3 person teams, consultants develop their business acumen, enhance soft skills, broaden their professional network, and enhance their knowledge of the business of science.

PICO places an emphasis on postdoc development. Many of our consultants are academics who are simply curious about bio-business, while others are working to hone their skills as they look to transition to industry. As a team, we participate in monthly development workshops, small group discussion, and large conferences where we rub shoulders with industry leaders from all over the world. Former members have gone on to become consultants, product specialists, bench scientists, and patent agents.

  Former PICO members - Where are they now?

Mohammed Aldakkak, MD
MCW Anesthesiology
Research Scientist

Jason Bader, PhD
LI-CORE Biosciences
Field Applications Scientist

Jason Bazil, PhD
University of Michigan

Sheldon Garrison, PhD
Promentis Pharmaceuticals
Director of Pediatric and Rare Diseases

Adam Gastonguay, PhD
Nelson Mullins, LLP
Patent Agent

Hector Ahlers Guillen, PhD
Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Staff Scientist

Madelyn Hanson, PhD
Kantar Health
Research Analyst

Brian Hoffmann, PhD
Medical College of Wisconsin
Assistant Professor

Elizabeth Liedhegner, PhD
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Laboratory Manager II

XiaoQian Liu, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology (MCW)
Leadership Team Member, Consultant

Jered McGivern, PhD
Lakeland College
Assistant Professor

Ion Moraru, PhD
Quarles and Brady, LLP
Patent Scientist

Prahlad Rao, PhD
Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Postdoctoral Scientist

Ben Stengel, PhD
Implementation Consultant

Léna Borbouse Watanabe, PhD
W.L. Gore & Associates
Aortic Product Specialist

Dustin Whitney, PhD
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Postdoctoral Fellow

Minde Willardsen, PhD
Sedulo Group
Market Research Analyst

Elizabeth Zakszewski, PhD
Neurosurgery (MCW)

Ling Zhong, PhD
MCW Neurology
Clinical Research Coordinator I

Michael Zickus, PhD
GreatPoint Energy
Analytical Chemist

  Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

When was PICO established?
PICO was established in 2011 by Dr. Philip S. Clifford (former MCW faculty member, currently at UIC) and Lena Watanabe (former MCW postdoctoral fellow) after a series of long discussions and meetings with selected industry representatives. They then recruited two more postdocs, Sheldon Garrison and Mike Zickus, to participate in the first PICO project.

How many companies/projects has PICO completed?
Since our establishment, we have completed over 30 projects for 16 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Our results have had a deep and meaningful impact for our clients who range from start-ups through well-established corporations.

How much does PICO charge for its services?
. PICO services are pro bono. Our payment is considered fulfilled by providing our consultants with hands-on experience and networking opportunities in exchange for actionable business recommendations. On occasion, some clients have been asked, or have offered, to present a workshop to the group on a variety of business related topics.

How does PICO train its consultants?
In addition to hands-on training through consulting projects, PICO regularly brings in guest speakers from various areas of business and biotech to speak on topics such as product valuation, finance, intellectual property, project management, regulatory affairs, etc. Knowledge and best practices are also shared among members in monthly meetings, which insures the flow of knowledge from senior members to new consultants.

PICO has also supported its members in attending national business-related meetings such as BIO, AUTM, and Bioforward. Through extensive networking and training, former PICO members have gone on to high impact positions in both industry and academia. Check out our former members!

  PICO in the News

A Postdoc in Transition: Experiences and Lessons Learned Along the Way
Adam Gastonguay
Appears in The Postdoc Way, a blog and resource for postdocs

Young Science Scholars Try Out Consulting As a Professional Plan B
Rebecca Koenig
Appears in Vitae, an online career hub for academics

Apply to be a Consultant

Recruitment and hiring occurs on a rolling basis and applications are always welcome.

To apply, you must currently be a postdoctoral fellow from the Medical College of Wisconsin or the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

If you are interested in joining our team, please download and submit the PICO application file (DOC) along with a 1-2 page resume (Not CV) to

Donate to PICO

Current PICO Members


Aaron Kittell, PhD
Biophysics (MCW)
Manager, Consultant

Faculty Advisor

Julie Tetzlaff, PhD
Pathology (Pediatric), Office of Postdoctoral Education (MCW)

Leadership Team Members

Stephanie Cossette, PhD
Pediatrics (MCW)
Leadership Team Member, Consultant

Michael Harrison, MD, PhD
Physiology (MCW)
Leadership Team Member, Consultant


Muhammad Zeeshan Afzal, PhD
Medicine (MCW)

Vidhyalakshmi Arumugam, PhD
Pathology (MCW)

Jamaria Martins, PhD
Microbiology and Genetics (MCW)

Savitha Sethumadhavan, PhD
Biophysics (MCW)

Gang Xin, PhD
Medicine (MCW)

Junior Consultants

Sarah Caudill, PhD
Physics (UW-Milwaukee)

Chen Chen, MD, PhD
Microbiology and Genetics (MCW)

Siveshigan Pillay, PhD
Anesthesiology (MCW)

Mai Thao, PhD
Medicine (MCW)

Ashwini R. Verma, PhD
Organic Chemistry (UW-Milwaukee)

Ranjit S. Verma, PhD
Chemistry and Biochemistry (UW-Milwaukee)

Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-8296
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Page Updated 08/17/2016